I have gotten a lot of questions (and seen many more on the message boards) about the new consumer 3D camera, the HDC-SDT750, that was recently announced. I thought this would be a very good topic for discussion, especially because so many people are asking us to contrast the SDT750 to the AG-3DA1 professional model. There are clear differences to illustrate that in no way disparage the consumer camera, which is quite remarkable. When set up properly, 3D footage shot with the SDT750 is really good.
The SDT750 is, in fact, a 2D camera (with 1/4″ 3MOS imagers and AVCHD recording) but it has an optical 3D attachment. The 3D lens front attachment has two small anamorphic lenses that create 1/2 width squeezed images for the left and right eye views. These squeezed images are focused on the same 1/4″ imager side by side.
Side by side squeezed images are one of the more popular ways to deliver 3D content over an existing 2D infrastructure (frame compatible). The camera records the optically-created side by side images as if they were normal 2D (as AVCHD 1080i). These can be played back with a 2D BluRay player and most consumer 3D displays will be able to present this as 3D.
To keep things simple; in 3D mode the SDT750 has a fixed focal length, fixed inter-axial and fixed convergence plane (only focus and iris are adjustable).
Here’s a chart that shows technical comparisons:
These are the biggest differences but there are many more professional features in the 3DA1. Because they are separated optically the SDT750 images leave the edges of the frame black so they do not fill up the full HD frame. The guiding principles in the SDT750 consumer camera are to keep it simple and keep it affordable (just like the 3DA1) but “simple and affordable” for consumers is not the same as “simple and affordable” for broadcasters, studios and other professionals. Will it find “crash-cam” applications in our business? I expect so. One thing is for sure: Panasonic, with unique professional and consumer 3D offerings about to enter the market place, will be dominant in the 3D camera space.